Wind turbine technician

Wind turbine technicians completing a maintenance operation

Description

Wind turbine technicians maintain and repair wind turbines by performing diagnostic inspections, analysing faults, and performing repair duties. They ensure the wind turbines operate in compliance with regulations, and assist the wind engineers in the construction of wind turbines. Wind turbine technicians may also test and install hardware and software components of wind turbines.

Wind turbine technicians typically do the following:

  • Inspect the exterior and physical integrity of wind turbine towers
  • Climb wind turbine towers to inspect or repair wind turbine equipment
  • Perform routine maintenance on wind turbines
  • Test and troubleshoot electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components and systems
  • Replace worn or malfunctioning components
  • Collect turbine data for testing or research and analysis
  • Service underground transmission systems, wind field substations, or fiber optic sensing and control systems.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to wind turbine technician:

wind plant technician
off-shore wind turbine maintenance technician
wind turbine maintenance technician
wind turbine repair technician
off-shore wind turbine repair technician
wind farm worker
on-shore wind turbine inspection technician
wind turbine inspection technician
wind turbine service technician
off-shore wind turbine inspection technician
on-shore wind turbine maintenance technician
offshore wind turbine worker
on-shore wind turbine repair technician
windfarm worker (m,f,n)
wind turbine array worker
wind energy installer
wind turbine worker
onshore wind turbine worker
windtech

Working conditions

Wind turbine technicians generally work outdoors, often at great heights and with a partner. For example, when repairing blades, windtechs rappel—or descend by sliding down a rope—from the nacelle to the section of the blade that needs servicing. To reach the mechanical equipment, workers must climb ladders—sometimes more than 260 feet (80 meters) tall—while wearing a fall protection harness and carrying tools. When maintaining mechanical systems, windtechs work in the confined space of the nacelle.

For major service or repairs, additional wind turbine technicians and other specialists, such as electricians, may be needed to complete the job quickly.

Injuries and Illnesses

Wind turbine technicians have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

Work Schedules

Although the majority of wind turbine technicians work full time, they may also be on call to handle emergencies during evenings and weekends.

When a wind turbine is not functioning, technicians must find the problem and make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

Windtechs often travel to rural areas, where many wind farms are located.

Minimum qualifications

Most wind turbine technicians learn their trade by attending technical schools or community colleges, where they typically complete certificates in wind energy technology, although some workers choose to earn an associate’s degree.

Many technical schools have onsite wind turbines that students can work on as part of their studies. In addition to lab coursework, other areas of focus that reflect the various skill sets needed to do the job include the following:

  • Rescue, safety, first aid, and CPR training
  • Electrical maintenance
  • Hydraulic maintenance
  • Braking systems
  • Mechanical systems, including blade inspection and maintenance
  • Computers and programmable logic control systems

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Wind turbine technician is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Wind turbine technician career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to wind turbine technician.

cable jointer
overhead line worker
electricity distribution worker
street lighting electrician
avionics technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of wind turbine technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of wind turbine technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

hydroelectric plant operator
solar power plant operator
power production plant operator
geothermal power plant operator
biogas technician

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of wind turbine technician.

  • Electrical power safety regulations: The compliance with safety measures which need to be taken during the installation, operation, and maintenance of constructions and equipment which function in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electrical power, such as the appropriate safety gear, equipment handling procedures, and preventive actions.
  • Types of wind turbines: The two main types of wind turbines, namely those which rotate along a horizontal or those which rotate along a vertical axis, and their subtypes. The properties and uses of each.
  • Electronics: The functioning of electronic circuit boards, processors, chips, and computer hardware and software, including programming and applications. Apply this knowledge to ensure electronic equipment runs smoothly.
  • Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of wind turbine technician.

  • Maintain records of maintenance interventions: Keep written records of all repairs and maintenance interventions undertaken, including information on the parts and materials used, etc.
  • Maintain electrical equipment: Test electrical equipment for malfunctions. Take safety measures, company guidelines, and legislation concerning electrical equipment into account. Clean, repair and replace parts and connections as required.
  • Inspect wind turbines: Perform routine inspections on wind turbines by climbing the turbines and carefully inspecting all parts to identify any problems, and to assess whether repairs have to be arranged.
  • Install electrical and electronic equipment: Install equipment which is dependent on electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work, or equipment to generate, transfer or measure such currents and fields. This equipment includes switchboards, electric motors, generators or direct current systems.
  • Arrange equipment repairs: Arrange for equipment repairs when necessary.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
  • Maintain hydraulic systems: Perform routine maintenance and repairs on systems which use pressurised fluids to provide power to machines and equipment.
  • Maintain electronic equipment: Check and repair electronic equipment. Detect malfunction, locate faults and take measures to prevent damage.
  • Ensure equipment maintenance: Ensure that the equipment required for operations is regularly checked for faults, that routine maintenance tasks are performed, and that repairs are scheduled and performed in the case of damage or flaws.
  • Follow safety procedures when working at heights: Take necessary precautions and follow a set of measures that assess, prevent and tackle risks when working at a high distance from the ground. Prevent endangering people working under these structures and avoid falls from ladders, mobile scaffolding, fixed working bridges, single person lifts etc. since they may cause fatalities or major injuries.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of wind turbine technician. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Hardware components: The essential components that make up a hardware system, such as liquid-crystal displays (LCD), camera sensors, microprocessors, memories, modems, batteries and their interconnections.
  • Hardware testing methods: Those processes in which hardware components or systems are tested, such as the system test (ST), the ongoing reliability test (ORT), and the in-circuit test (ICT).
  • Technical drawings: Drawing software and the various symbols, perspectives, units of measurement, notation systems, visual styles and page layouts used in technical drawings.
  • Hydraulics: The power transmission systems that use the force of flowing liquids to transmit power.
  • Aerodynamics: The scientific field that deals with the way gases interact with moving bodies. As we usually deal with atmospheric air, aerodynamics is primarily concerned with the forces of drag and lift, which are caused by air passing over and around solid bodies.
  • Renewable energy technologies: The different types of energy sources which cannot be depleted, such as wind, solar, water, biomass, and biofuel energy. The different technologies used to implement these types of energy to an increasing degree, such as wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, photovoltaics, and concentrated solar power.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of wind turbine technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Resolve equipment malfunctions: Identify, report and repair equipment damage and malfunctions; communicate with field representatives and manufacturers to obtain repair and replacement components.
  • Assemble electrical components: Assemble switches, electrical controls, circuit boards and other electrical components by using hand and soldering equipment.
  • Report test findings: Report test results with a focus on findings and recommendations, differentiating results by levels of severity. Include relevant information from the test plan and outline the test methodologies, using metrics, tables, and visual methods to clarify where needed.
  • Oversee pre-assembly operations: Organise and oversee the arrangements preceding the assembly of manufactured products, mostly taking place in factories, including their installation in assembling locations such as construction sites.
  • Ensure compliance with electricity distribution schedule: Monitor the operations of an electrical energy distribution facility and electricity distribution systems in order to ensure that the distribution goals and the electricity supply demands are met.
  • Inspect underground power cables: Inspect the underground power cables during installation or repair activities in order to identify faults and assess the extent of damage or need for repairs, and to ensure they are correctly installed and maintained.
  • Install hydraulic systems: Install systems and components that use liquid fluid power to create mechanical movements such as hydraulic pumps, valves, hydraulic motors, hydraulic cylinders and other elements that power hydraulic machinery.
  • Provide information on wind turbines: Provide organisations and individuals searching for alternative energy methods on the cost, benefits, and negative aspects of the installation and use of wind turbines, both residential and common, and what one must take into account when considering the implementation of wind turbine technology.
  • Repair underground power cables: Identify damage and perform the required repairs, as well as perform routine maintenance, to underground power cables used in the transmission and distribution of electrical energy.
  • Provide advice to technicians: Offer help and advice to service technicians in case of machine malfunctions and other repair tasks.
  • Execute software tests: Perform tests to ensure that a software product will perform flawlessly under the specified customer requirements, using specialised software tools. Apply software testing techniques and tools in order to identify software defects (bugs) and malfunctions.
  • Read engineering drawings: Read the technical drawings of a product made by the engineer in order to suggest improvements, make models of the product or operate it.
  • Liaise with engineers: Collaborate with engineers to ensure common understanding and discuss product design, development and improvement.
  • Write inspection reports: Write the results and conclusions of the inspection in a clear and intelligible way. Log the inspection’s processes such as contact, outcome, and steps taken.
  • Replace large components: Dismantle and reassemble equipment or system parts in order to replace large defective elements such as generators or engines.

ISCO group and title

7412 – Electrical mechanics and fitters


References
  1. Wind turbine technician – ESCO
  2. Wind Turbine Technicians : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Featured image: By U.S. Department of Energy from United States – 465 004 001, Public Domain,
Last updated on October 9, 2022

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